You adore your pet and want to ensure that the veterinarian you choose has the right qualifications to provide your four-legged friend with the care they need. But what qualifications should you be looking for?
Choosing the Right Vet
Choosing a new vet for your pet can become quite a stressful experience. There are so many factors to consider. Are the hospital hours in line with your own availability? Will you even like them? On top of these practical considerations is also a number of certifications that may be held by a given vet. But what do they mean and how do they qualify your prospective vet to care for your companion? Here are explanations of some of the most common.
Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications
When you are looking for a vet, check to make sure that the veterinarian you are considering is licensed in the U.S. and in your state. You may also what to take the time to find out if other people working in the hospital are licensed, such as registered veterinary technicians. Pop into the vet's office and take a look around, if you don't see the certifications hanging in the reception area, simply ask to see their licenses or contact your state board of veterinary medicine for more information.
Here are the two certifications you are looking for:
DVM (VMD) - Doctor of Veterinary Medicine - The first thing that you need to check is that your vet is qualified to practice in the U.S. When a person graduates from an American veterinary school they receive a DVM—Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (sometimes called a VMD degree). All vets practicing in the U.S. must have a DVM degree. A DVM degree means that the person you are considering is, in fact, a qualified veterinarian and is fully qualified to perform the duties of the profession.
State Veterinary Licensing - In order to practice veterinary medicine, some states also require a veterinarian to pass a state-specific examination. These exams typically test the vet's knowledge of the state's laws and regulations governing veterinary medicine. In order to maintain a state veterinary license, vets must obtain continuing education and may need to renew their license on a regular basis (often every 3 years).
Additional Veterinary Qualifications
If your pet has health care requirements above and beyond standard veterinary care, you may want to look for a vet with qualifications that go beyond the standard DVM degree. Two such certifications are:
Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (DABVP) - Vets who become ABVP Certified (also called AVBP Diplomates) start with a DVM degree and then go on to accrue knowledge and expertise beyond what is required to practice standard veterinary medicine. ABVP DIsplomates have to undergo a challenging years-long process of examinations and studies in order to become board-certified specialists as recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Vets with this certification have put in the hard work and training hours to specialize in the treatment of one or more categories of animals.
Fear Free Certification - If you have a pet that is high-strung or anxious you may want to take the extra time to locate a Fear-Free Certified vet in your area. Fear-Free certification can apply to an individual vet, another veterinary professional within the hospital, or even the hospital itself. Fear Free training teaches ways in which veterinary professionals can make pets more at ease in their offices and during their examinations and treatment.